Thursday, July 25, 2019

Teach the ECC Using a Hoverboard

a graphic that says "teach the expanded core using a hoverboard"
Teach the Expanded Core using a.....hoverboard? YES! A hoverboard!! Why? How? Huh? Let me start at the beginning. I spent a few weeks mulling over the activities for STEM Camp. I already knew the theme (STEM Camp in the Old Pioneer West) but needed to do my research for other activities. I look for STEM activities that are popular with all kids. I want to keep our students looped in with what their peers are liking. I walked passed a hoverboard while buying some supplies and instantly made a U turn. I was going back for the hoverboard. I had an idea! 

a female student kneels down and checks out a hoverboard
I knew that it would be a total blast to teach my students how to use a hoverboard at STEM Camp. I loved this idea not just because I thought it would be cool but because my ECC lightbulb went off. There were so many things I could teach to build an awesome ECC experience! It was just hoverboards that I purchased, I rounded up different types of helmets, photos and pieces for location and got to work. 
the group of students sit with the teacher on the floor with their legs extended

Before we even got on the hoverboards, we needed to do some serious concept development, STEM instruction and pre-teaching. First, I set the stage and we discussed what everyone knew about hoverboards and all things related to them (helmets, locations, etc). 
Then we get to the STEM of it all. We talked about the parts of the hoverboard, the science of it and how they work. This was a bonus because I could teach STEM and the ECC at the same time. Students learned where to place their feet, how wide the foot pad sensors are and positioning. We sat on the floor and extended our legs to practice tipping our toes and working our heels. I bought different types of helmets on purpose to discuss the features, uses, etc. of the helmets. 

a female student wearing a fun helmet sits on the ground and checks out the hoverboard
Can you see all of the attention I'm giving to the details? Too many times I see teachers just pass the object to a students a move on. I purposely gave students a variety of helmets and bought different brands/types of hoverboards. I wanted them to get a rich experience and concept development. 

a female student sits on the ground and checks out the hoverboard
Can you see how many areas of the ECC we are hitting? I was so excited throughout our initial hoverboard lesson because it was like an ECC buffet! We hit lots of orientation and mobility--from spatial awareness to directionality and balance. (Once students got their balance, we did have them use their canes if they were a cane user). We even hit career education. How? We discussed the rules and earning your dues at the skate park. We also discussed what types of jobs you could have in the skate industry. 
students stand on the hoverboard with teachers standing in front of them holding their hands
Let me share some of my instruction progression on how we taught the hoverboard. Most important, use a chair to get on and off! The very first thing we did was just simply having students stand up, balance and then sit down. Once they could stand up and maintain their balance, I knew they were ready to move on. Students must wear a helmet at all times. 
Students then learned how to move forward and backwards. This was great because they learned a lot about body awareness and control. Each student had an adult staff in close proximity. I also had a teenager who had typical vision there to model, support and talk with students about her experience.

a female student moves forward on a hoverboard
It took all of the students about one full day of hoverboard practicing to grow to mastering it. Everyone, students with low vision to no vision were rocking their skills on the hoverboards! It was awesome to watch my students with no vision cruising along with their canes. They just adjusted their speed and coordinated with their canes to find their way up and down our hallways. 
a male teenager moves on the hoverboard and uses his cane
The next time you are looking for a fun ECC lesson, consider a lesson with a hoverboard! I bought my boards from Walmart. (I actually price matched and got an even better price). I purposely bought different boards to compare and contrast. I even bought one with a bluetooth speaker built in!
a male teenager moves on the hoverboard and uses his cane
Another bonus: the confidence that all of our students gained by mastering the hoverboard! Yaaaassss! They learned the physics behind the hoverboard. They were fearless with gaining speed and fluidity. It was just an ECC party with students learning skills a lot of people probably don't think blind kids can do! It's not about what we see, it's about what we do! 

Monday, July 1, 2019

Teach the ECC at a Home Improvement Store

Text with three pictures of students touching appliances at The Home Depot

Hello friends! I am finally getting around to blogging about one of my favorite places in the community for Expanded Core instruction: a home improvement store! Yep, like Lowe's or The Home Depot. These stores a treasure box of skills, experiences and learning opportunities. There are many options for doing community based instruction (CBI) at a home improvement store. I recommend doing it as a series. This means you come back several times and break up the store into smaller parts. I like this option because there is more opportunity for students to have a stronger connection to the concepts. After all, there's much to learn, see, touch and do at a big home improvement store. The pictures from this post are part of a two part series I did. We did some work in the classroom and then put it together at the store. Part one was dedicated to learning about tools and basic home improvement around the house. Students learned a lot from the difference between a flathead and a Phillips screwdriver to how to plunge a toilet! Note: I always buy a new plunger and label it so students can touch it and explore it without it being gross! I feel that students should know basics of their home. These areas often get overlooked but it is a valuable skillset. Plan time for this. It's easy to just do a "show and tell" lesson. That's not effective ECC instruction. Use the "I do. We do. Y'all Do. You do." approach for this one! It's okay to break it up into a series of learning as well! 

A male young adult examines a stove dial appliance close up

A male teenager examines a refridgerator at the home depot.

A home improvement store is also great for a variety of age groups. I brought younger students to high school students for this outing. My younger students had a bonus lesson: they went and explored different textures! There were so many textures for younger hands to find and discuss. We also did a scavenger hunt of shapes, textures, measurement and comparing/contrasting sizes with their group. 

A young adult male and an elementary age male touch a display of small rugs

A group of young students tactually explore a wall of carpet samples.
 Plan a few hours for an ECC CBI--even if you are breaking it up in a series. There are many departments that have lots of hands on exploration even for older students. Check out the picture below with all the different faucets! We had lots of discussions about student's preferences, uses and locations of just faucets!
a photo of a wall display of faucets at The Home Depot.

a group of teenagers hold up flooring samples and smile for a picture
 I brought a medium sized group of students for this outing. I broke them up into small groups and gave them an "educational scavenger hunt" (aka a creative list of things I want them to learn about). Each group had time to go about the store at their own pace. They had to check out major departments and apply their new "tool knowledge" to each department. Can you see all the possibilities?? We spent almost an entire day on our home improvement unit.
a group of students listen to a male teacher as he points out items on a heating system
 There's another reason why I like doing ECC lessons at a home improvement store: the appliance section! Many students haven't had the opportunity to check out a variety of appliances. Their knowledge is usually just their own home appliances. I like to do a whole lesson about accessible appliances. I like to review what makes an appliance accessible. I give the students a checklist of accessible options to consider and tell them to find these options on appliances. I encourage them to learn about their own accessibility needs. Then look for appliances that match their needs. Note: I don't rush this lesson. We go appliance by appliance---we do laundry first, then kitchen, etc. I let students discover features of appliances.
A female student explores a washing machine

a male young adult smiles next to a washing machine.

Don't forget to talk about the money! We also discuss prices and budgets. I kind of like to play "The Price is Right" for this. I have students take a guess at how much appliances cost including their dream accessible appliances. Fortunately, many of the most accessible appliances are the most basic ones. We compare and contrast pricier models with basic. We discuss all the bells and whistles. It's such a great ECC lesson!! 

a close up of a basic dial on washing machine
 Make sure you go during off hours if possible. It makes it easier to have "department to yourself". You can do a lot more instruction without everyone staring at you. The workers are usually awesome to work with. Many employees will take extra time and really help out where possible.
a male young adult turns the knobs on a stove as he checks it out.
 I have students pack their assistive technology (that includes their phones) for this CBI. I like them to use their AT when determining what accessibility they need. Feel free to invite an orientation & mobility instructor as well for this one. There's so much to gain on this ECC adventure!
a male young adult checks out the knob on a stove.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Teach the Expanded Core Using the Play Impossible Gameball

Graphic that says Teach the Expanded Core Curriculum using the Play Impossible Gameball
I am so excited to share my new favorite Expanded Core activity: the Play Impossible Gameball! Have you tried it yet? I learned about it while at the Apple Store with an employee. I was instantly intrigued with its potential but worried about accessibility. There are so many fun new STEM ideas coming out but their apps are not accessible. Not the case with Play Impossible Gameball! 
There is a ton of potential with the gameball. I use it for STEM but of course can teach loads of other ECC skills. NOTE: take time to go through the app before you let students play with it. Consider all of the things you need to preteach. 

A photo of the Game possible screen app that shows the list of all the games.

The app allows you to play with just one player or in teams. You can play with one ball or two balls. The balls charge super fast! You can purchase them in a few places but I bought on Amazon. They are about $80 per ball. Kinda pricey but worth it! 
Check out general information on their site:

Screen of the app that says "play" with the directions for a game.
The ball is fun to play for just recreation and leisure skills. I tested out the app and its accessibility with our assistive technology teacher (who is completely blind) and our education tech guy. You can see how they did on Instagram. Follow me on 9MoreThanCore on Instagram to see the demo!

Screen of the app that says "play" with the directions for a game.
The app speaks about 80% of the information. It does not work with VoiceOver. Our AT guy, Quintin, who tested it with me was able to play almost completely independently. This is where you as the teacher or parent needs to play with the app first. You may need to teach or strengthen skills such as toss a ball in the air and catch the ball. 

screen of the app with the directions to select the metric unit you want to hear
I really like that students can play this with their friends and family without much effort. It allows our students to participate along side peers and have a lot of fun! There are some skills that I really recommend you preteach with students such as the tossing ones (if your student has no vision).  This is important because tossing ball is easy for sighted people but can be a real hiccup for our students.  Think about the social implications and needs for our students. 

screen of the app  from the sports labs activity with the stats of throwing, speed

Can you see all the areas and skills of the Expanded Core you can teach using the gameball? Recreation and leisure is definitely a win! I've even explored games that my students with multiple impairments can play with peers. Social skills is another main area. You can also infuse skills from self-determination, use of assistive technology and compensatory access skills. 

Thursday, May 16, 2019


a flier with the text: AAC & ME?! with information for the ECC PTA on this topic

Join us for our May ECC PTA on Tuesday, May 21! This month our topic is learning all about augmentative and alternative communication better known as AAC for students with multiple impairments and blindness. This is another free meeting for our parents, related servers and teachers. We are very happy to have Breana Cannon as our special guest presenter. Breana is a speech language pathologist and also serves on our augmentative communication team. She has a fantastic understanding of  students with multiple impairments. Read this post late? No worries! You didn't miss out. You can still access the recorded webinar by registering:

Friday, April 19, 2019

Spring & Easter ECC Activities

graphic that says spring & easter activities with the Expanded Core curriculum

Happy spring! Spring season bring holidays like Easter and a lot of fun opportunities for Expanded Core instruction. Check out some quick, fun and easy to do ECC spring activities. The bonus: you can do these for Easter, too!

Clearance sign that reads 2.50 above a bin of colorful pillows
a bunny stuffed animal sits on top of bright color pillows
an image of the gym floor with bright color medium and large different types of eggs
Let's start with Easter. One of the most difficult parts of traditional Easter activities is the egg hunt. Many people have adopted the beeping eggs or using balloons on strings. Those are great ideas and I have done them. The problem I ran into with the balloons is that it ended up being super windy and the balloons were blowing around everywhere--gah! The beeping eggs are nice but what do you do if you have students with hearing impairments, in wheelchairs or have under developed sound location skills? That's what I was thinking about this year when putting together our Spring Carnival. 
I was in Walmart gathering supplies when I saw a clearance bin with these colorful, soft and lightweight "egg looking" pillows---yes! They were only $2.50--score! I purchased a handful of these pillows. I knew that they would be perfect "eggs" for many of my students. They are easy to see, fun to touch and lightweight to hold. Yes! They were such a hit! The students used them in so many ways. I made sure that I bought a red one for some of my CVI students. I have many students who use gait trainers, walkers, etc. Check out my Instagram--9MoreThanCore to watch how some of my students used it. 
I also purchase "large print" eggs for $1 because they are easy to see.

an image of a wall with large bright color eggs with buckets

That wasn't the only egg hunt we had. Who say you have to have just one egg hunt when we have students of all different abilities and interests?! My kids have participated in lots of family egg hunts where each child is assigned a color or a sticker for their designated egg. I took that idea and put my ECC thinking cap on. Again, what is an egg hunt that my students can fully interact with? 

I assigned students based on small groups (small classroom sizes) a designated color egg. The big eggs were hung on walls for the hunt. Each classroom looks for multiple eggs of the same color that are mounted to the wall. Each classroom is designated a spring decoration (i.e. bee, flower, polka dot) and will decorate their eggs as they find them. The decorations were in buckets. Students matched their color to their egg and bucket. We used Braille labels on both buckets and eggs for literacy purposes and for students who have no vision.
a large green egg decorated with yellow chics mounted on the wall

a blue bucket with large print word "blue" and Braille label
a close up of the large eggs with braille label "yellow"

It worked out great! Students still did an egg hunt but we packed in a lot of other bonus skills. I considered popular IEP goals (scanning, matching, fine motor skills) and infused them into this and the other activities for meaningful instruction. They were also easy and inexpensive to make! I used poster board from Dollar Tree. I bought a white poster board and used a shiny wrapping paper for one color. They were nice and bright and easy to see. (We laminated them so we can use them again!). We used die cuts for decorations and painters tape for easy application. 
an image of the large colorful eggs taped to the wall

an image of the garden box with garden tools, flowers, etc. inside
Another fun activity was the gardening station. This was a mix of live plants, artificial plants/flowers and gardening tools. I headed to Walmart nursery clearance rack. I wanted crocus flowers because they are super fragrant. I also nabbed some oregano and parsley for their scent and textures. 
I found a great idea from Pinterest for the sensory play component. I picked up some black beans and filled some containers to have "dirt". Bright color artificial flowers provided great contrast. 

a close up of a bee decoration on the garden table.
a close up of the garden table with the flowers and activities

Target Dollar Spot had some great cheap finds! I purchased kids gardening gloves, gardening tools and fun rocks. They also had some fun carrots and veggies that were soft. You can easily open the seam and fill them with some weights to give them a little bit more weight for sensory feedback. (We had the same idea for the spring friends!).  Dollar Tree had these awesome carrot eggs. I filled them with different amounts of beans for shaker eggs. I found a super cute bee and lady bug decoration from At Home which added to the garden table.
a close up of the carrot eggs half filled with beans to make shaker eggs

a long decoration of a kite flying in the sky

I always love having a motor activity. I created some motor movements that all my students could do (wheelchairs, supported standers or independent standers). I also added numbers on dowels. Students selected a motor skill and a number. Our PE teacher ran the activity. 

a close up of the motor activity signs "run in place" "clap your hands"

a close up of the motor activities "wiggle your body" and "stomp your feet"

a close up of the dress up table
We had a spring dress up station with all kinds of fun items. Why? We had a parade! A parade infused some fun ECC skills. It was fun to watch students dress up with all kinds of decorations. We worked some fun social skills with smiling and waiving in our parade (very simple parade so we can focus on skills). 

a close up of the spring friends table with different characters on it.
 A lot of my students enjoy music so the spring friends table was just the table for them! I found these fun spring friends that dance and move. I also went to the baby section and found super soft bunnies and a large turtle. Again, you can open the seams and add some weight to provide more sensory feedback. 
a close up of the spring friends table with different characters on it.

a long spring decoration of raindrops on a duck and baby ducks

 You don't need to save these activities for Easter. These are spring activities you can do do throughout spring! Plus, buying these right after Easter gives you a nice savings to your wallet. 

an image of large different eggs